Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big Girl Moment

We had a big girl moment today. Analiese has been asking to have her ears pierced for several months now. I've been putting it off, mostly to make sure that she was serious enough to sit through both ears being pierced and not jet after the first.

Last night she asked (begged) for the thousandth time, so today we had a girls day out. She was giddy all the way there and completely confident until they put the piercing gun to her ear. That's when she slouched down so quickly that she almost got a jewel in her head. We did that three more times before she finally let them put the little blue studs in. Once it was done, she was very pleased with herself and her bea-u-ti-ful (said in a very high pitched voice) new earrings. She is very beautiful, my big girl, growing up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rainy Day Lists

The Rainy Day
- Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary

It's been one of those weeks.

One that leaves me awake all night making failure lists.

My mother's heart starts to make a list of all that I'm doing wrong. Of all the ways in each day that I make sure that my kids will one day sit on a psychologist's couch. Of all the lessons taught poorly or yelled, or worse, ignored. Then as my husband crawls in bed beside me , I realize I've completely neglected him this night and my mind goes to the lists of ways that I've let him down. Then the financial failures jump to the front and the wrong decision list starts to check itself off. This, of course, only leads to the regret list that inevitably takes me down in tears. The relationships I didn't mend, the choices I should have made. The what-ifs and should-haves and the if-onlys.

I too often tear myself down in a fit of melancholy when my body should really be restoring itself in sleep. Anything can prompt it. A bad day, a horrible phone call, a disappointment, a life stress. And then I find myself in a sleepless night letting doubt creep in to whisper in my ear.

In these moments I have two choices. I can lay there and replay the lists over in my mind. The lists I know too well. Or I can trust that I have been given grace and mercy enough for my weakness. I can believe the poet, that in each life the rain must fall and that the sun is still shining behind the cloud. I can choose to let the rain fall through the night and in the morning see how the wildflowers have grown.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Watercolor Ballerinas

I've been playing in watercolors lately. Something about warm, fresh air makes me want to break out the watercolors. Watercolors feel light, like spring. Winter calls for heavier mediums like thick oils and charcoals. So as the warm air has come out so have my brushes dipped in watery shades. I love the way the colors blend. They don't cover one another, they embrace one another. The effect creates a dreamy wash on the intended picture. Watercolors are playful and fun.

This weekend I was playing with my brushes and some new characters jumped on my pages. These watercolor ballerinas emerged from the colors. I think I like them and I plan on working on them a bit more this spring. I think they have potential to be very fun to create. I guess those five year old ballet toes inspired me more than I thought.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekends Are For...

Hammock swinging...

especially if it's a gorgeous April like day at the end of February. Yes, yesterday was just such a day. My husband caught me with eyes closed laying on the picnic table soaking up some much needed Vitamin D. He who knows me well said, "How about I get the hammock out?". I popped up and I'm sure my eyes shined. Give me a hammock in a warm backyard and I can find a happy place quickly. But one must guard such serenity or mischievous little sprites might steal it. I went inside to refill my tea glass and I came back out to this sight...

I can't say that I blame them. Look, they're all getting along and peaceful and smiling. I willing gave up my quiet place for this beautiful moment.

As is often the case with sprites, they soon began to peel away and take flight to other adventures and I was once again left alone with my hammock, except for the little one who came back with a blanket and a pillow and a snuggle with mama. Well, I don't suppose I can complain about that either.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love...

...little girl toes clad with ballet shoes, leg warmers, and toe tapping versions of the Hokey-Pokey

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crazy Snow!

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. -- John Ruskin

We got more snow over the weekend. We soak it up every chance we get. (If you could see my carpets, you know that I use the word soak literally!) The South is seeing more snow than we've seen in years. Arkansas has become Narnia this winter. My sister in Dallas got eight inches last week. Apparently even Florida saw some snow! We're quiet beside ourselves down here. Poor cows are probably milked dry from all of the pre-snow runs to the grocery store. Our local store was completely out of bread the other day. Southerners don't really handle the white stuff with a sense of calm. Crazy weather! Apparently all of those global warming/odd storm predictions were right. But good or bad, our little crew is ready to enjoy whatever is thrown our way. In fact we'd like a little more please. This last bit of snow was gone far too quickly.

how cool is that piece of ice!

yes, that is all of the snow in our yard rolled up into one ball. I said we got more snow, not a lot of snow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sisterly Love...

Let's say that your sister is spending the day in mama's bed being a little sick. If you were a good sister you might bring all of the stuffed animals that you know she loves and surround her with comfort. If you were a good sister you might bring her paper, crayons, and games to play so that she doesn't get too bored. If you're a good sister you might refill her water glass and keep the remote handy. But mostly, a good sister would be willing to plop down right beside her and keep her company until the sick one falls soundly asleep. I'm so glad that my under-the-weather little girl has a good sister.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Letter To St. Valentine

Once upon a time I fell in love with a redhead boy who was thoroughly romantic. He was the kind that left roses in my locker. But he was also a bit rough around the edges, the say-whatever comes-to-mind kind. And he had this spirit. I fell in love with his spirit. It was strong and bold and full of sweet Jesus faith. I was neither strong nor bold. I was the quiet girl, the naive kind. I was the insecure one. But the sweet one, the willing to love one.

We stole away to quiet corners and whispered I love you. We raged with baby making hormones and succumbed in secret under a full moon. It was sweet and awkward. We were eighteen. Clothed in Bible Belt guilt, we told our parents of the babe inside. A date was set, our planned futures altered. Our wedding was nice, but it wasn't our own. It was a show of decorum. A chance to set right. We jumped into marriage together but landed broken. We were a lovely shell covering hurt, guilt, and anger. Then we had a son. My mother heart emerged strong and my calling was set. A sweet Jesus faith arose within and I thanked Him for this gift. My husband loved us both and we set out to move on as a family. His heart was sure but his head was conflicted. He wasn't ready for this life stage but we held tight to shared love.

He worked and went to school. I raised our child. We loved and made another baby. We were twenty two. This baby I carried was fragile and he held my hand and we prayed. Our daughter was born well and sweet and our hearts loved this young family of ours.

We were growing up. We were different than when we began. The broken pieces weren't fitting back together exactly like we had envisioned. We were not alike in any way. But we fit. We complimented each other in our differences. We loved. Another baby was made. We were twenty three.

We moved. He went to law school and long hours were spent in learning. We fought and we made up. We parented our three as well as we could. We celebrated milestones. We struggled with what we should look like. We didn't fit any mold.

We moved again and he disappeared into work. We fought harder and made up less. I raised our children and he worked. Without really meaning to, we hurt the other's heart. He dealt hurt in forbidden kisses. He questioned shared faith. I dealt hurt in walls built, in hiding away. It was a climax of inner confusion still wrapped nicely in a beautiful outer shell of unity and love. Our hearts still loved but we hid it from the other out of spite.

Then the shell cracked. He lost his job and he came to me to be held. I opened arms and dropped one wall. It's funny how one event in so many can slap you back to perspective. We were broken again. It allowed us to stop. To breathe. To think. We let it all out in the stress. We yelled and we remembered. We spoke of who we wanted to be, who we could be. We spoke of how we had changed and why those changes had come to be. We spoke of the love we had hidden away. We spoke fondly of the boy and the girl and learned to love the man and the woman. We said to hell with some mold that we are supposed to fit. We have loved and made a beautiful family.

Ten years have passed. My heart loves this man. He isn't who I thought he would be. He isn't perfect. But he is good. And he loves me and these three we've made. That is enough for me. I'm not who he thought I'd be either. But I'm still the one willing to love. We have freed each other of restraint. We finally allowed each other to embrace what the broken pieces became because we are starting to realize that we are better than who we thought we'd be. We are more present in our relationship, in our life, in ourselves than we have ever been. We stumble. We make up. We work it out as we go. We are parents. We are friends.

We stole away and we loved. No baby was made...yet. We are twenty eight. And we're still writing this story.

This is love. This is the love I want my children to know. It is honest. It's messy. It isn't perfect. But it's good. And it's worth it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dancing in the Snow

We had reservations at a cute little bistro downtown by the railroad tracks. Then the snow started. It was falling hard, so we wavered and then decided to go anyway. We sat and dined and drank a bottle of wine and ate chocolate cake. We watched the windows fog and the snow fall. We watched it fall in front of the hundred year old hardware store and the farmers market sign. We laughed and we took silly pictures in the snow. We played and kissed and held hands. It was so quiet and peaceful. A step back in time. No fights or life talk, no decision making. We were simply lovers and friends for this night. Snow fell softly over us. It was a beautiful night.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All You Need Is Love

We are getting Valentines ready around here. Handmade valentines are the best. They just feel good in your hand. Our table is covered in stickers and glue and heart shaped doilies. Scalloped cut edges and child written names. I love it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free Bird

It's a blustery day. A "winds-day". (If you love Winnie the Pooh, you got that.) The wind is gusting at about 35 mph. Our funky little cottage is shifting and sighing. It's strong wind that makes you pause and listen. Analiese and I were standing at the back door watching the trees bend when she said,

"I love the wind. I love the sound. The shush. I want to be married in wind like this with petals and leaves twirling all around."

Then she ran outside, threw her hands up in the air, and let the wind flow through her. She twirled around and laughed and fell down. And leaves actually swirled around her as she stood up again. She stood and felt the wind.

I love this child of mine because she feels things. She feels the wind and rain, the flowers and the leaves. When she cries, she wails. When she laughs, she laughs loud. No emotion is felt softly. When I carried her they told us her heart was fragile. When she was born they told us she was healed. But, though her physical heart was fine, she was born with a fragile spirit heart. All things are felt with an intense freedom that few people have. She is a free spirit. Free to dance in the wind with abandon. I hope she never loses this freedom. Though I fear the vanity and self consciousness of the teen years will dampen it, I pray that she escapes those awkward days with her spirit intact. That at 16, 25, 40, and 80 she will throw her hands in the air and twirl in the wind. I hope she does get married in wind like this. She would be a beautiful clothed in white with petals and leaves twirling all around.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A House Divided...

We're split. Me, Chris and Sicily yelling "Go Colts"! Steven and Analiese yelling "Go Saints"! But notice who's on top. (wink*)

At least we get to fight it out with a yummy bowl of chili! Mmmm. I don't even watch football. But I can get into a night meant to be spent hanging out with friends, eating good bad for you food, and some friendly competition. Happy Superbowl Sunday everybody!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh my sweet, sweet girl...

I take the older two kids to school every morning. Around here we start school very early. 7:20am to be exact. Which means I have to leave here at 6:50am to get them there on time. Which means I wake them at 6:20am. That's very early for my sleepy heads. Too early for the little one. She usually sleeps through all of the bumps and moans. The groggy yawns and the sleepy pleas for a few more minutes. The cereal bowls thrown a little too carelessly into the sink. Backpacks being stuffed, lunches made, and shoes searched for. She sleeps through all of this early morning noise. Steven leaves as soon as I return and for some reason the door closing behind him is her alarm clock. Maybe it's because he leaves in a bundled mess of hurry. Jacket, wallet, cell phone, lunch, keys, name badge, tie all held precariously in one hand. Door slammed with his free hand. (It's ok. We aren't particularly good at mornings around here.) So she gets up, hair matted to face, hand clutching bunny, ready for snuggling. We climb back into my bed for a snuggle in front of an episode of Curious George. That's how it usually goes.
This morning was different. When I walked back in the door, I wasn't greeted by her sleepy eyes. I found her crying on the stairs. Steven was sick today. So he wasn't getting ready for work like normal. He was buried beneath a pile of blankets and pillows in our bed. Apparently, he was buried so well that she didn't think he was there. She thought that we had all left her. That she was home alone. She woke up to complete abandonment. That would make anyone cry. As I walked in the front door, she jumped from the stairs into my arms and cried a little harder. So I scooped her up and we went back to my bed. The trauma of it all must have exhausted her because she went back to sleep. And so did I.

Oh my sweet, sweet girl. We love you so. My mornings wouldn't be nearly as warm without you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Elusive Male

You may notice that there aren't a lot of posts about the boy around here. It's not for lack of trying. I have a lot of blurry pictures where he is fleeing as soon as he sees the camera. He's at that age where stopping for a picture isn't cool. If my husband is any indication, he won't grow out of that for the next 15 years.

He has a bit of his mama's soul. We share a melancholy and a need for solitude. He's quiet and yet still goofy in that nine year old boy way. He's an observer (unless he's correcting his sisters). I love all of these things about him, but it doesn't give me a lot of blog fodder, unlike the girls who are complete camera hams and say anything that comes to mind.

There are two things though that brighten his eyes and bring out his lively side. One is the first cold day of the year. Like me, he lives to wear sweat shirts. The other is snow. He comes alive in the snow. His quiet sometimes makes him seem older than his years. Snow brings out the little boy in him. Snow makes him seem like he's only nine, which he is, but sometimes it feels more like nine is the equivalent of twenty. He was outside yesterday for six straight hours. I took his lunch out to him. He built a whole fort for his army men who were attacked by the abominable snow man but saved themselves with their pet dinosaurs. It was awesome.

He's back outside today. He loves the snow. He doesn't seem to feel the cold. Waking up to snow is more exciting to him than Christmas morning. He actually pauses for the camera! I get more pictures of him during snow days than any other time of the year. He fades back to the quiet as the snow melts. I like quiet, but it's fun to see this brighter side of Chris for a few days. I think we'll eventually have to take him skiing. I think he'll love it. For now our pitiful little covering is enough to give him a nice snow fix. I'm sure he'll be out there until the last flake melts.